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APEC Health Week in Active Discussion, Ways to resume “Cervical Cancer” prevention after COVID pause

APEC Health Week in Active Discussion, Ways to resume “Cervical Cancer” prevention after COVID pause - HealthServ

At the APEC Health Week, APEC Member Economies will be engaged in policy dialogue on “Elimination of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer”, by which over 38% of women in the region were found infected and 35% died. The discussion will be resumed after a long COVID pause to identify actions for disease prevention, screening, and treatment towards the First APEC Roadmap. Thailand is also accelerating HPV vaccination coverage for grade-5 school students after 2 years of COVID pandemic disruption.

  • Date: 20.07.2022 Update: 23.08.2022
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 Dr. Somsak Akksilp, Director-General of Department of medical Services said that today (22 August 2022) at the Millennium Hotel Bangkok, the Policy Dialogue on HPV and Cervical Cancer Prevention will be organized in the afternoon session of APEC Health Week Meetings. This issue was put on the table because cervical cancer has become one of the most common HPV-related cancer in women worldwide. Each year, it is expected that 600,000 women across the world were diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 340,000 women died from the disease, out of which almost 38% of the infected women and 35% of death cases were in APEC Economies. Today’s discussion will highlight experience sharing among member economies about their interventions in different aspects such as capacity building and policy advocacy in addressing prevention and treatment gaps and challenges. This platform will also encourage all participants to learn from each other’s lessons and identify collaborative efforts to solve that problems which will help guiding all Member Economies to achieve the First APEC Roadmap to Promote Sustainable Economic Advanced for Women through Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control. This APEC Roadmap was developed during the period of 2014-2017 and aligned with the World Health organization’s Global Strategy for cervical cancer elimination by 2030.
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Dr. Somsak further explained that in Thailand, we had the National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan B.E. 2561 – 2565, in which cervical cancer measures for prevention, screening and treatment were incorporated. Recently, cervical cancer prevention and control measures have already been translated into action plan of Regional Health Service Plans countrywide. In addition, HPV vaccination is also included in the National Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and National List of Essential Medicines where the bivalent and quadrivalent HPV vaccines are now available for all grade-5 female students, around 400,000 persons each year. This HPV vaccination programme, which will be given to the target population before they become sexually active, has been rolled out nationwide since 2017 and found highly cost-effective and efficacy for HPV prevention.   
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Regarding the screening approach, Pap Smear has become the primary screening method of the country and early this year, Ministry of Public Health has launched the HPV Self Sampling Programme where all women, who feel shy to get examined by medical doctors or do not want to take leave from their job to take the test at the hospital, can follow the sampling collection instruction and send over their specimen to the participating hospitals. This initiative will increase the HPV screening coverage. If their test results are positive, they will get accessed to different treatment approaches from operation to chemotherapy and interventional radiotherapy as found appropriate and applicable to their symptoms and their health benefit package.   
“In the meeting, the participants will also discuss about interventions and preparatory works which will be required to ensure the continuation of HPV and cervical cancer prevention program in the next pandemic. It is obvious that in past 2 years, COVID pandemic has interrupted the production and procurement of HPV vaccines, which has caused more than 800,000 grade-5 female students unable to get vaccinated. However, since the COVID situation is getting better, so far, we can get 400,000 target students vaccinated and are procuring more doses to cover the rest”, Dr. Somsak said.
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